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Entries in decluttering (2)

Tuesday
Oct022018

Overwhelmed by Overflow

Letitia "Tish" Suk is immensely practical. As a life coach, she often helps women deal with personal struggles in positive ways. In this Organization UPGRADE, she helps us cope with the disorder in our homes.

"Some of us settle for a junk drawer," Letitia says. "I grabbed a whole room!"

I (Dawn) am picturing a closet right now in my own home. Maybe Letitia can help me. And you!

Letitia continues . . . 

I had a vague memory of the color of the floor in my small storage room in the basement. That was before I claimed it for my miscellaneous possessions: off-season items/gift wrap/old photos/grandkid toys/folding chairs, and all the other items I might need someday.

The rest of my home more or less reflected my orderly side—we all have one somewhere; but the storeroom was an embarrassment, even to me.

Just closing the door was no longer effective.

With the holiday season looming, with all the extra activities, it was time to get serious about tackling this chore. But just where was I going to find that time?

My best M.O. for a large task is to seize a whole day for it. The idea of "an hour here and an hour there" might work for some. It gets me nowhere.

Of course, that requires rescheduling everything else previously slotted for that chosen day. It takes a bit of ruthless planning, but the result is worth the inconvenience.

Strategies abound on the “right” way to declutter.

You may already know what’s your favorite plan of attack for your personal overflow. I could recite many methods that work for someone else, but here is what worked for me.

Each item got scrutinized and sorted into one of ten piles for distribution.

Here are the categories:

1. Freecycle

This is a web group where you post what you want to give away or acquire, and the community responds to you.

In the past week, I have left a number of items on my porch with post-it names on them for the new owner to come and collect. Easy! Look for it in your area.

2. Return to Adult Kids

We have provided free storage to our children’s memorabilia for years, but now they are getting it back!

I decided to provide a little deadline to “come and get it,” and then it lands back in THEIR storage room.

3. Giveaway

Our church has a free clothing pantry every Wednesday, so all found clothing and small household items are going on that pile—very satisfying to see the patrons enjoying their “new” items.

Also, most areas have a Goodwill or Salvation Army store that is happy to accept donations and give you a tax receipt.

4. Take Back to the Store.

In the purge, I found unopened purchases from mostly craft stores that went right back for merchandise credit.

5. Recycle

The bins in our alley overflowed from all the recyclables we generated. I also started gathering a box of electronics to deliver to a different community site, and cell phones for another.

Check in your area for where you can recycle all your cast offs. Sometimes there are “recycling fairs” sponsored by local businesses.

6. Friends

Books, photos and even a cassette tape turned up that got passed on to their original owners or those much more interested in the subject.

You might want to ask permission first before the handoff.

7. Sell

Ebay or Facebook Marketplace are great sources to make some cash for your no longer needed items.

Stores for used books or music might also be interested in your former possessions. Don’t count on big sums but it is usually worth the trip.

8. Library

Whatever books I didn’t sell went to the public library donation bins. Magazines also ended up there.

I will try not to buy them back at the next library sale!

9. Garbage

Some items were clearly not valuable for any other use and needed to be pitched.

10. Return to the Storeroom.

Once I eliminated all the clutter in the tiny room, it was a pleasure to organize the items I DID want to keep.

I could actually see my good stuff now as well as the formerly hidden floor.

What area of your home are you ready to tackle?

Letitia (Tish) Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat, and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. Learn more about Letitia here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Annie Spratt at Unsplash.

Thursday
Apr202017

Our Stuff vs. God's 'Stuff'

As I entered Pam Farrel's two-day post about downsizing (Part 1; Part 2), I (Dawn) searched my own heart.

"Lord," I said, "Pam wrote, 'You don't own your things; your things own you.' I get that. Does my stuff have me?

"And beyond that, Lord, does YOUR stuff have me?"

It was a strange question that filled my heart that morning, but one I had to answer honestly.

I had already been dealing with the idolatry of things. All the possessions in my home that consumed my time and attention.

The things I bought that were frivilous. Trinkets.

Things that cluttered my home and inhabited my heart.

The truth is, when our lives are cluttered with the things of this world, we may be crowding out the things of God.

So we start weeding out, downsizing, simplifying our homes, our closets, our storage spaces. And that's all good.

It's good to simplify our lives too. It creates freedom. Breathing room.

But I've noticed, when we clear spaces in our homes and heart, something else usually rushes in to fill that space.

I got rid of one "collection" in my home only to replace it with another one. It still wasn't the best use of my financial flow. And soon after I started dealing with my idolatry of food (gluttony), I found another idolatry rushed into the vacuum (pride of self-accomplishment).

The Lord doesn't just want things to be deleted from our lives; He wants to fill our lives with something better.

He wants to fill us with Himself.

I started asking the Lord, "What can I add to my life that will bring you more glory?"

I wanted my "stuff" to be used for God's glory and to bless others as Pam suggested. And I wanted the Lord to fill my home and heart with more of Himself too. I wanted to be a vessel of honor, for His use.

It's not about despising our "stuff"—despising the things of the world. It's about finding our highest delight in the Creator of the world and in His Word, and bearing good fruit for Him (Psalm 1:1-3).

Focusing on God's "stuff" means focusing on the truth of His Word and responding to it in humility, obedience, and God-glorifying service.

That may mean changing our thoughts, especially any lies we believe. We muat be careful how we think, because our lives are shaped by the thoughts of our "heart" (Proverbs 4:23). We must fix our thoughts on those things that will build our lives and glorify the Lord (Philippians 4:8).  We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23).

But most of all, it's following the replacement principle, the dynamic the Bible describes as "put off... put on."

Without the biblical replacement principle—found in Ephesians 4:22-24 and Philippians 3:12-14; 4:8—we may be simply replacing one bad habit with another bad habit, or one idolatry with another idolatry.

We must put off (get rid of) those things that fill our lives that do not please the Lord. We must confess our sins as the Holy Spirit illuminates our heart reveals them to us (Ephesians 1:15-18; 1 John 1:9). Our sins begin in our hearts and work their way outward, so we need to start with the heart.

It's not enough to recognize the fruit of sin; we need to get to the root and yank it out.

For example, overeating was not my root of sin; the gluttony was a result of idolatry in my heart—seeking satisfaction in food rather than the Lord. THAT was the root.

We are renewed in our spirit (sanctified) when we begin to appropriate and apply the Word (John 17:17) and REPLACE our sinful desires, thoughts and attitudes with biblical desires, thoughts and attitudes (1 Timothy 4:7; Romans 6:11-14, 16-19). We allow the Word to train us!

It's not usually an overnight process, but a transformation that happens over time as we yield to the Spirit of God (James 1:21-25).

In that transformation, we put off (eliminate) some things (our sinful stuff), and put on (embrace) other things (God's holy and honorable "stuff").

For example:

But the point is, once we identify our "stuff," we discover God's "stuff"—His absolute truth about our sin—and we embrace it and do whatever we can to make the truth of His Word an active part of our lives (reading, memorization, responding in obedience, etc.). In other words, we surrender our lives to His control.

So... as I am deleting the frivilous and foolishly time-consuming things in my home that clutter and rob me of freedom or joy, I am also asking the Lord to help me delete the things that do not please Him, and REPLACE them with things that delight His heart.

Is this your desire too? Where will you begin to deal with YOUR "stuff"? Where does seeking God's "stuff" begin?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.